I couldn't agree more. So here's the next question. If you or I have already decided "no heroics" and already know we will refuse treatment for cancer (for example), is there any point in undergoing various tests or screenings to detect it? Mammograms? PSA? Is early detection really that beneficial in terms of quantity vs. quality of life? Would I live just as long if I did nothing? Wouldn't it be better not knowing and not worrying?
Where do we draw the line?
Excellent point. Study panels are already recommending a pull-back on certain "routine tests" like mammograms and PSAs. However, I think there's a substantial difference between early detection of a disease that can be eradicated successfully and a diagnosis of Stage IV cancers that are well on their way to killing you. The cures will likely finish you off, too, in godawful, debilitating fashion.
Then there are the (as the article calls them) "futile care" measures practiced in ERs and ICUs to keep dreadfully ill people alive. Without a power of attorney, I had to watch my father being assaulted and violated for 30 days in an ICU because my stepmother was in a "whatever it takes" mindset. The staff was compelled to follow her directives, but admitted privately that he was NOT going to recover and resume any sort of meaningful life.
My mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, declined treatment, died at home six months later and taught me everything I need to know about dying well.
I believe early detection can be very helpful. It would have saved my mom.
Government regulation and oversight of medicines and "acceptable" treatment has created this problem. When we get government less involved and allow doctors and modern medicine to do what it knows works, we will see major progress as well as lower costs.
I am not just saying this off the top of my head. My mom was diagnosed with cancer and had a treatment given that was working. Then the government stepped in and said the USA couldn't offer it anymore. she lost her battle.
I also knew a man who worked for the department of Health and he told me a lot of the craziness that goes on.
So Katie, what was your moms approach? I believe we ought to all have our wishes put in writing so people will know what we want when the times comes.
Ever more effective treatments, together with the increasing success of determined, well-informed victims and survivors are not fairly reflected in your comments.
A few years ago someone very close to me was diagnosed with melanoma, unfortunately not soon enough. Her prognosis was six months. After working with her excellent doctors for fourteen months she was declared cancer free. During the following twelve years she saw her daughter married, her son graduate from university and she held three grandchildren in her arms.
When the cancer returned it was located in her brain and she decided not to accept further treatment. Four months later she passed away peacefully, content that her earlier battle had given her a second life she would not have otherwise had.
Medical science is by no means perfect, but if you give in to disease too easily, you may well have decided to forfeit the rest of your life.